Laser-induced graphene (LIG) is a promising component that can be added to a variety of materials in order to enhance them and create tough, conductive parts for wearable electronics, anti-icing, antimicrobial applications, sensors and water treatment.
The researchers at Rice University and Ben-Gurios University have infused LIG with plastic, rubber, cement, wax and other materials to create composites for a wide range of applications. LIG is obtained by having a commercial laser burn the surface of a thin sheet of polymide (a common plastic), which in turn is transformed into flakes of interconnected graphene. This is a fast and inexpensive process, but the material on its own is not mechanically robust. It can be bent and flexed, but it peels off, so it is better off as a component of other materials.
LIG can be used by pouring a thin layer of another material on top of it, and as its creator has said “You just pour it in, and now you transfer all the beautiful aspects of LIG into a material that’s highly robust”.